In the Heart of Europe

(Budapest’s town hall)

Thursday begins the wonderful month of December, meaning only eighteen days remain of my time in Bulgaria. However, I will not allow myself to dwell on this sad though; choosing instead to think of the memories I have made and will continue to make over the course of the next few days. This weekend, I was able to add one more adventure and two more countries to my list of memories from this semester.

While my mom was a college student in Oregon, she met a foreign exchange student from Serbia; connecting with this woman and continuing that relationship over the years. On Friday, I was also able to meet this woman and her two children (Michael and Anna*); traveling to Hungary and then to Serbia with them. Because her children study in Budapest, I flew into the airport there; meeting the trio outside the gate and driving back to her son’s apartment.

After a nice home cooked dinner at the apartment, we walked around Budapest; viewing the beautiful city at night. Seeing the sights of the most livable city in Central and Eastern Europe by night proved to be rather cold; forcing us to stop in a café for dessert to warm up. Returning to the streets, we continued to meander; finally returning to the apartment to relax and go to bed.

Sleeping in until 9:00 AM on Saturday, we walked around the city a little more; seeing its majesty in the daylight. Walking along the Danube River, we saw both the Buda and Pest sides of the city (the two cities of Buda and Pest on the banks of the river were joined into one city in 1873). Following a coffee in a café (surprisingly my first of the day) we hopped in the car for the two-hour drive to Subotica, Serbia (their hometown).

Arriving in Subotica, we stopped for lunch and the most popular café in town (even the president of Serbia travels from Belgrade to dine there). After a tasty lunch, I was given a tour of the town (including the inside of the town hall). Beautiful, even during an overcast afternoon, Subotica’s charm captured my heart.

(Subotica’s town hall at night)

Following my walking tour of the city, I went with Michael to the local ice rink. However, we were not able to venture onto the ice because they had run out of ice skates by the time we arrived. Instead, we met Anna and a friend at a coffee shop for a relaxing chat and, of course, delicious coffee. Feeling more awake after two shots of espresso, Michael and I showered and met a couple of his friends at a pub for drinks before heading out for the night.

Only sleeping for a couple hours, we awoke early on Sunday in order to ensure that I caught my flight back to Sofia. Traveling back to Bulgaria, I was able to reflect on my time in Hungary and Serbia; realizing that it was one of my favorite weekends outside of Bulgaria. Spending time in Budapest made me acknowledge the fact that I have fallen in love with Eastern Europe. Being such a livable city, I would not mind returning to Hungary to either work or study. Only the future can tell!

*Names changed to hide their identity